As prosecutors read aloud the gruesome details of each crime, victims and their relatives stood in the audience.
Some looked DeAngelo in the eye. Others couldn’t bear to. But all wanted him to know: They were there. And they were not afraid.
“We don’t have anything to be ashamed of, so we can stand up, and he can take a look at us,” said Kris Pedretti, one of the earliest victims, who was 15 when she was raped in 1976. “We’re not afraid of him. I think that’s more powerful than us staying seated and being a Jane Doe. Because, if he looks out, he doesn’t know who is who. He will today.”
In a hoarse voice, DeAngelo pleaded guilty to 13 murders and 13 charges of kidnapping for purposes of robbery — the only crimes with which he is charged. He also admitted to some 62 other crimes of rape and abduction for which the statutes of limitations long ago expired.
Prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty — the main request made by DeAngelo’s public defenders. In return for his guilty plea, DeAngelo will be sentenced to prison for the rest of his life.
DeAngelo’s crimes ran from at least 1973 to 1986 and involved attacks on some 106 children, men and women in 11 counties, ranging from Sacramento to Orange. Some 50 women and girls were raped.
Frustrated detectives and the public dubbed the unknown assailant variously as the Visalia Ransacker, the East Area Rapist, the Diamond Knot Killer and the Original Night Stalker.
Detectives did not have a final named suspect until 2018, when they used crime-scene DNA and genealogy services to identify the killer’s cousin and then, finally, DeAngelo, a former police officer.
Sacramento County Assistant Chief Deputy Dist. Atty. Thien Ho called the crimes “simply staggering” in scope.
“His monikers reflect the sweeping geographical impact of his crime,” Ho said during Monday’s hearing. “Each time, he escaped — slipping away silently into the night, leaving communities terrified for years.”
Ho said that DeAngelo, sitting in a Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department interview room hours after his arrest, spoke to himself, saying, “I did all those things. I’ve destroyed all their lives. So now, I’ve got to pay the price.”
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